What's So Great About an Access Database Anyway?
Some years ago, there was an article in The New Yorker about two brothers, both mathematicians, who were on a dubious mission. They had built a homemade supercomputer, lodged in one brother's apartment near Columbia University on Morningside Heights, to find the value of the constant pi to as many decimal places as possible. Pi was already known to millions of places (now it's known to billions), and many scholars questioned just what was being accomplished by generating millions more. One Columbia professor fumed, "This is about as interesting as going to the beach and counting sand…. Mathematics is mostly about giving pleasure."
I love that remark: It conjures up the image of an "adventuress" in an exotic seaport sidling up to a sailor and saying, "Hey, big boy, how about a Pythagorean theorem?" But the professor's comment is also startling: For most of us, pleasure is the last word we associate with our own experiences of computing the areas of rhomboids and resolving quadratic equations.
I find higher mathematics as baffling as most people, and I'm not exactly sure what the professor was getting at. But I think he was saying that real mathematicians find elegant solutions to problems, which cannot help but give pleasure to those who can contemplate such beauty.
I'm not willing to state that you'll ever find the creation and manipulation of an Access database mostly about giving pleasure. But I will say that a well-designed relational database can indeed be elegant, beautiful, lovely. Like the best mathematical solutions, an Access relational database is spare and minimaldata is never repeated twice when once will do. In a desirable contradiction, the better integrated its foundation, the more flexible and powerful an Access database becomes. And like all well-designed systems, an Access database is secure and stable: It vigorously denies entry to data that is unsuitable or even harmful.
First and foremost, I want this book to educate. But I also hope it will give you pleasure as you discover the elegance and beauty of a well-designed Access database. I know that if you experience just some of the joy in reading it that I had in writing it, you will have a grand time indeed.